In this tutorial, we will create realistic watercolor brushes for Photoshop
from scanned paper using watercolor strokes and washes.
Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:
Prefer to use Adobe Illustrator? Try this article instead:
You will need the following in order to complete this tutorial:
- a sheet of
- any medium-sized
- a small jar with
- any set
of watercolor paints
- a scanner that
has the ability to scan A4-size paper
1. How to Create the Strokes on Watercolor
Prepare your brush, paper, and paints, and then pour the water into the jar.
Put a small amount of water on the paper with your brush.
Start adding paint to the water on the paper using the edge of your brush.
Continue to add paint until your stroke looks like the picture below.
Now let’s create a second watercolor stroke. Draw a long stroke with one
To create the last one, use sharp movements by holding the brush by the
Now we need to wait a while for it all to dry.
2. How to Scan the Paper
We need to prepare the scanner glass to avoid stains or unwanted
elements on your brushes. You can use a wet wipe to clean the glass.
Once you have cleaned the scanner glass, put your paper on the scanner.
Set the following settings in your scanner preferences: A4 paper
size, 300 dpi. Then start scanning. The color of our scanned paper can be
different from the color of our strokes, but it is much more important for us
to preserve the structure.
3. How to Create the Strokes on Watercolor
Use Control-N to create a new document and use
the following settings: 1500 x 1000 px; 300 dpi.
Go to File > Place and put your scanned paper
into the document.
Resize your scanned paper to the borders of the document, so one of the
brushes will be placed in the center, and click Enter.
Select your layer and use the Shift-Control-Alt-B key
combination and set the following settings: Reds: 40%; Yellows: 60%;
Greens: 40%; Cyans: -25%; Blues: -25%; Magentas: 80%.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and
use the following settings: Brightness: 35; Contrast: 25.
Right-click on the layer and
then select Duplicate Layer.
Create two more duplicates of your layer using Right-click > Duplicate.
Make all scan layers as Invisible except the first.
Select your first layer, go to Select > Color Range, and
click on the white area on your image. Click OK.
Now the white background of your image is selected. Delete it using the Delete button.
Then click on any part of your document to Deselect the previous selection
and select your stroke using the Lasso Tool.
Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, select any name
you want to use for your brush, and hit the OK button.
Our first brush is almost ready to use. Select Brush Instrument and
then select your watercolor stoke. After that, hit the Brush
Put ticks on Shape Dynamics, Color Dynamics, and Transfer.
Go to the Shape Dynamics panel and set Size Jitter to 90% and Angle
Jitter to 50%.
Go to the Transfer panel and set Opacity Jitter to 25%.
Now our brush will create realistic-looking washes:
Now we need to cut the second stroke from the background as we did
before, and after that go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and
create Watercolor Brush 02.
Open the brush settings and go to Dual Brush and then select
your first brush. Set Mode to Multiply; Size to 450
px; Spacing to 72%.
This way, we can combine the brushes and add grunge scrapes to our brush
Now we need to cut the second stroke from the background as we did before, and after that go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and create Watercolor
Open the brush settings and go to Shape Dynamics, and
set Size Jitter to 100% and Angle
Jitter to 75%.
With these brush settings, we can create ink splashes.
Awesome Work, You’re Now Done!
Using these methods, we can create different types of watercolor brushes
for Photoshop using a scanner, watercolor paper, and paints.
You can find a huge range of awesome watercolor effects for Photoshop in this excellent article: